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Prostate Cancer

  • What is Prostate Cancer?

    Prostate cancer is an abnormal growth of tissue in the prostate, which is a walnut-sized gland that produces semen in men. Most prostate cancers grow slowly but they sometimes spread to other parts of the body.

  • The causes of prostate cancer are not known but you may be at risk if you:

    • Are older than 50 years
    • Have a family member with prostate cancer
    • Smoke tobacco
    • Have dark skin
    • Eat a high-fat diet and are overweight
    • Started having sexual intercourse at an early age or have a history of sexually transmitted diseases or many sexual partners
    • Have high testosterone (male hormone) levels if you undergo testosterone therapy
  • There are usually no symptoms of prostate cancer. Most men who reach the age of 80 years will have prostate cancer. As most prostate cancers grow slowly, many men die of other old age ailments without ever knowing that they have prostate cancer. If you, however, have symptoms, they likely include:

    • Difficulty in passing urine
      1. Only passing a trickle of urine
      2. Less force in the stream of urine
      3. Burning or pain when urinating
      4. Not being able to urinate
      5. Blood in your urine or semen
    • Pelvic, back or hip pain
    • Weight loss
  • As prostate cancer develops slowly and treatment may carry risks, doctors often simply monitor the tumour rather than treat it immediately. Treatment depends on your symptoms, age, general health and on the type and stage of the cancer.

    Treatments include:

    • Surgery to remove the prostate. Side effects of urinary incontinence and impotence may occur
    • Hormone therapy to counter the effect of testosterone (primary male sex hormone)
    • Chemotherapy to relieve the symptoms of prostate cancer
    • Radiation therapy (high-energy x-ray) to kill the cancer cells
    • Brachytherapy (insertion of radioactive implants) to deliver a high dose of radiation to the tumour to destroy cancer cells

    If you are older than 50 years, you should discuss undergoing a prostate cancer screening with your doctor.

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